Types of Brain Waves and The Impact of Pulsed Light Therapy

Types of Brain Waves and The Impact of Pulsed Light Therapy

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As humans, we are full of frequencies called brain waves that define our everyday life and are associated with our overall health. Ranging from low to high, these important frequencies help us restore and regenerate during deep sleep, and keep us awake and alert when needed. In this article we provide an overview of the different types of brain waves and how the use of near-infrared pulsed light may be beneficial in promoting an increase in brain wave stimulation. 

Before we get into the human aspect of frequencies, we need to cover the definition of frequency from a general perspective. Frequency is defined as “the number of times that a periodic function repeats the same sequence of values during a unit variation of the independent variable”. [1]  In layman terms, it’s a unit of something that commonly repeats itself over and over again resulting in a pattern. 

Brain and Nervous System Basics 

The human body uses frequencies called brain waves to define our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Brain waves are electrical pulses between cells called neurons. These cells are fundamental to our brain and nervous system, acting as messengers that transmit information between different areas. Different types of neurons control different functions. For example, motor neurons transmit messages from the brain to the muscles to generate movement. While sensory neurons detect light, sound, odor, taste, pressure, and heat, sending messages back to the brain to process. [2]

Types of Brain Waves 

Brain waves change according to what we are doing, feeling and thinking. They are defined by speed or frequency, which is measured in Hertz (Hz) cycles per second. When slow brain waves are dominant, we can feel tired, sluggish, or dreamy. While higher speed brain waves make us feel alert, energized and ready to work. Below we touch on each frequency range and how the body reacts when these frequencies are dominant. [3]

Brain Waves

Infra-low Waves (less than .5 Hz)

Infra-low brain waves are thought to be the basic cortical rhythms that stem from our higher brain functions. Very little is known about infra-low brain waves. Their slow nature makes them difficult to detect or accurately measure. They are thought to play a role in brain timing and network function. 

Delta Waves (.5 to 3.5 Hz)

Delta waves are dominant in deep sleep stages 3 and 4. As Delta waves increase, we lose awareness of the physical world and tap into information in our unconscious mind. Delta waves are a dominant rhythm in infants up to one year of age. 

Theta Waves (4 to 8 Hz)

Theta brain waves occur most often during sleep or deep meditation. Theta is our gateway to learning, memory, and intuition. In theta, our senses are withdrawn from the outside world and become focused within. We commonly only experience this brief state as we wake, or as we drift off to sleep. Dreaming also takes place in this state.

Alpha Waves (8 to 12 Hz)

Alpha waves occur between 8 and 12 Hz, peaking at 10 Hz. Alpha waves promote mental resourcefulness, aid in the ability to mentally coordinate, and enhance our overall sense of fatigue or relaxation. Alpha waves are reported to be derived from the white matter of the brain. The white matter can be considered the part of the brain that connects all parts to each other. Alpha waves promote relaxation and healing.   

Beta Waves (12 to 30 Hz)

Beta waves are dominant when we are engaged in rapid activity. In a beta state, our eyes are wide open and we are primed for listening, problem solving, judgment, decision making, and processing the outside information around us. 

Gamma Waves (above 30 Hz)

Gamma waves are the only frequency found in every part of the brain. When we need to simultaneously process information, we depend on gamma waves to do so. Having a good memory is also associated with well regulated gamma waves. 

Pulsed light and brain wave stimulation

In a 2021 study, researchers investigated the effects of pulsed near infrared light at 10Hz on the human brain using an electroencephalography (EEG) analysis. The results showed a significant positive impact on alpha and theta waves. It was suggested that higher dosages (or frequencies) may have an impact on beta and gamma waves that are associated with alertness, while lower dosages (or frequencies) impacted alpha and theta waves that are associated with relaxation and sleep. These findings may lead to positive implications within the medical field, helping with sleep problems and enhancing our attention for learning. [4]  

Joovv Recovery+ Mode

Joovv’s Recovery+ mode is designed to pulse near-infrared light at 10 Hz, while the red light remains continuous. Utilizing this mode may help promote an increase in alpha wave production which can help stimulate mental resourcefulness and relaxation. This mode is ideal for recovery applications and may be favorable for use in promoting healing throughout the body. Learn more about Recovery+ mode here.


The human body uses frequencies called brain waves to define our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Ranging from low to high, these important frequencies help us restore and regenerate. Pulsed near-infrared light has been shown to increase brain wave behavior based on the pulse frequency, giving us the ability to regenerate more efficiently. Studies in this area continue to indicate promising research in the advancement of light therapy for use in medical applications. We hope you enjoyed this article and look forward to sharing further research.

Shop Joovv's devices with Recovery+ mode.


[1] “Frequency, N.(a).”Merriam-Webster,http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/frequency Accessed 12 September 2022.

[2] Woodruff Dr Alan. “What is a neuron?” Queensland Brain Institute. The University of Queensland Australia. Medium. Accessed 12 September 2022. 

[3] Budzynski Thomas, Budzynski Helen, Evans James, Abarbanel Andrew. “Introduction to Quantitative EEG and Neurofeedback”. Published 2009. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-374534-7.X0001-9

[4] Yi-Chia Shan, Wei Fang, Yang-Chyuan Chang, Wen-Dien Chang, Jih-Huad Wu. “Effect of Near-Infrared Pulsed Light on the Human Brain Using Electroencephalography.” Evid Based Complement Altern Med. 2021; 2021: 6993916. Pubmed Central. Medium. Accessed 12 September 2022.